Fifth about The Seventh

Cities of Last Things (Xìngfú Chéngshì)

Cities of Last Things: essentially telling the story of three nights, Wi Ding Ho’s film does it in reverse chronological order. There is, however, no payoff (either in storytelling or emotionally) for doing that. Furthermore, the main character, the conductive thread in the three narratives, fail to be a cohesive figure, and the choice accentuates instead of mitigating that issue. Even so, the risky choices make the film a more interesting production it would otherwise be. Acting is fine, but, due to the episodic nature of the film, the performers don’t get much time to develop the characters. Jack Kao, Hong-Chi Lee, and Chang-Ying Xie play, namely, the same character, and they all do so with intensity (particularly the elder version Kao). Louise Grinberg is a lively presence, one that justifies the callback in the future-most storyline. The production design team creates a credible-looking near future. Cinematographer Jean-Louis Vialard creates a few striking images as he captures night in the city, and the grainy overall look is distinctive.

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